Constructing identity through code choice and code-switching: Evidence from multilingual Muslim women in Barcelona

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With the presence of Catalan, Spanish, and a variety of migrant languages, multilingualism in Catalonia extends across the region and is a regular practice for native-born and migrant residents alike. This study examines language use and its relationship to identity construction among first and second-generation Muslim women immigrants in Barcelona. Data was collected from 34 female informants in Barcelona, all of whom identified as first or second-generation Muslim. Data consisted of questionnaires and interviews which were designed to learn about the informants’ linguistic background as well as the extent to which they used Spanish, Catalan and their native/heritage language(s). As a further case study, specific instances of code-switching among the South Asian Urdu-speaking informants were examined. Results point to a generational divide in terms of domains of use. However, informants demonstrated a greater tendency towards multilingual language use rather than restricting themselves to single language use in specific domains, a reflection of informants’ self-reported code-switching practices, which were found to be a widely accepted communicative tool that serves an array of socio-pragmatic functions.

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